- What is the name of your business and how long has it been around?
The name of my brand is called Wild & Free, however I have recently changed it to Wild Leather Co. Although we loved what the connotation of Wild & Free represents we also felt that we wanted to target a more inclusive market, being corporate, and not only adventurers. We do still hold Wild & Free very close to our hearts.
- How did the idea for your business come about?
It was when I fell pregnant with my daughter, I had searched high and low for a good quality Leather Bag. I couldn't find one on the market and settled for another well known brand PVC brand. I loved the design but sadly it had perished within a few months. Being a go getter and a person who is simply very impatient , I decided to make one myself. I sourced all the materials, made a pattern and took it to a local Leather Maker to stitch together for me. I was so thrilled with the outcome and so were my friends. I started getting in orders from my close friends, and then their friends and then friends of friends. It was around the 3 month mark where I felt I could really make a business out of this and that is how Wild & Free was born.
- Can you provide us with a description of your business?
Wild Company is a company that leads to inspire adventure in our magnificent culturally diverse country, South Africa. Inspired by a quote “not all those who wander are lost - JR Tolkien” this emotive quote leads us to find the courage to expose all corners of our globe, and especially within our country. We have created a range that grows with you. A diaper bag later changing into an Overnight Bag, or a Diaper Backpack changing into an Adventure bag. Wild Leather Co bags are made from ethically sourced South African Leathers. Each product is crafted to perfection. We are proud to fall into the slow, sustainable slow fashion industry. This is where our heart is, making a difference while making an impact.
- Who is the person(s) behind your business and what is your background (ie education, work experience, life experience)?
I am Nicci, a 37yr old mum to two gorgeous girls. I matriculated in 2001 and did a stint in the UK, I worked for a NPO in trying to get disadvantaged, rehabilitated young adults qualified for their A levels (Matric) so they could have the confidence to seek job employment. I have always been an Empath, so helping people has been the biggest blessing and has often led to my biggest failures in life. When I returned from the UK I met my Husband (again) - I first met him when I was 13yr’s old. He has his own successful business and has been a mentor to me in running Wild as I have no formal qualifications. Wild Leather started off as a hobby with no clear plan and every single day I am learning something new. It sure is an adventure. I tried a few different Business ideas before Wild, I imported Wedding Dresses, I sold children clothing and formal jobs I have had, include being a Travel Agent and a Personal Assistant. Growing up we didn't have much, my father was a Police Man and my mother was a Personal Assistant. My Dad was exactly like me, an entrepreneur, always having an idea for the next big venture. Once an entrepreneur I don't think your mind ever stops creating and dreaming.
- Do you have a team behind the scenes or are you a one woman show? If you have a team, please share a little with us about them?
Three years ago I partnered with a Husband and Wife team of Leather Makers who are incredibly talented and have helped immensely with bringing my designs to life. We have a total team of 14 employees. Sophie is in charge of Customer Relations and does the most incredible job at it. We also recently hired Gert to oversee Production. We are a family now and have a tradition where birthdays are celebrated with balloons and cake and Mc Donald’s.
- How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life? How do you balance work and family?
In all honesty, it is not easy, there are days where I cry and ask myself is this is worth it, there are days where the joy of receiving good feedback makes me feel accomplished, but in all honesty, there is no balance , I am still learning how to tackle the mom vs work hustle but I have an incredibly supportive husband who is hands on and that definitely does help. Having your own Business is a roller coaster of emotions, but it is absolutely worth all of it.
- What motivates you?
Product Development, I love designing, pushing the boundaries but hands downs, it is customer support and reviews. I have a following of over 100 000 across my Social Media platforms and I, on a daily basis receive emails of support, encouragement and praise. My client base feel like a tribe, and they motivate me to work harder and create more.
- How do you define success?
For me success is knowing that at the end of the month, my employees get to take home their full salaries. That to me is the most important part of what I do. Feeding 14 families, who indirectly support their families of 41 people.
- What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
The most exciting part was when I launched The Business Bag, I didn't think much of it at the time of posting it, I knew it was a great design but within 24hr it had been seen by over 1.2 million people on Facebook. I overnight had over 1000 email orders, and thousands and thousands of comments. I was so overwhelmed I had a moment of weakness and deleted the post. The following day, I posted it again and it reached 1 million again. That for me was the single greatest moment of Wild’s life. All organic, and it set the brands success in motion from there. The Business Bag is still our best seller.
- What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Satisfaction in knowing that I have built a Business on my own, blood sweat and tears (there have been a lot of tears).
- What are your future aspirations for this business?
I would like to be the no 1 go to brand in South Africa for Leather products. I would also like to open a little shop in Cape Town and export to other Countries. We have a whole world of opportunities awaiting us. The sky is the limit.
- If you had a magic wand, which are the three things you would change in the world?
At the moment, with all the uncertainty that Covid has brought we need to find a way to end world hunger, to educate our children and society in general to be more inclusive and to show love to all races. To understand that no matter how much money you have in your bank account, or what car you drive, it doesn’t define you as a person. Your kindness, your effort to help change the world and our environment or your neighbours’ life by simply checking in on them, your empathy and compassion is what defines you. Some of the poorest people I have ever met, have been the kindest to me and have offered me the most wisdom.